post working pubbing, i was hungry and having somewhat of an arab food craving, perhaps a chicken shawarma with its juices and pickled green chilies. o decided he was particularly in the mood to be going to the arab mecca that is edgware road with its slightly sad grey look oddly accented by men and women dressed top to toe in designer labels. so instead he took me to a persian place knowing full well that i would love its bread, fresh out of the clay oven with sesame seeds pressed on its surface.
in keeping with most persian eateries colbeh is small – its tables spaced just wide enough to allow the passage of people and food. next to the entrance is an open clay oven akin to an asian tandoor in the subcontinent. a waiter was busy taking already scored balls of dough, stretching them with a rolling pin, running a cut-work pattern and lining them on the curved walls of the clay oven for them to cook. i love the smell of warm bread and i love the slight scalding that comes from the impatience of wanting to tear the bread instantly upon its arrival at the table.
for starters we had masto-khair – diced cucumber and shallots and mint in creamy yoghurt. there is nothing more satisfying that the cool of yoghurt with bread hot from the oven. a bit of an orthodox and clearly a believer in persian cuisines ability to render meat into a tender and flavorful experience with little else than salt, some herbs and a squeeze of lemon i ordered the traditional chicken kebab. o picked the persian specialty of zereshsk polo – barberries and saffron rice with chicken. neither of us was disappointed. my kebab came enveloped in a large bread accompanied by a whole tomato bruised from its grilling and letting off steam.
to end the meal we had a pot of tea – a special three tea blend sweetened liberally.